General, Wife Killed in Crash: Plane Nearly Misses Retirement Community

Officials are investigating a Virginia plane crash that led to the death of a decorated Air Force general and his wife Friday.

Maj. Gen. Joseph D. Brown IV, 54, his wife Sue Brown and the family dog were killed following a plane crash near the Williamsburg-Jamestown Airport at around 4:53 p.m. Major Brown was piloting the plane when the crash occurred; all three family members were killed.

The plane nearly missed homes in a retirement community, witnesses told the Associated Press, but no people on the ground were injured.

"Another 50 feet, and they would have been in my bedroom," resident Bruce Ward told ABC News affiliate WVEC-TV.

His wife also spoke to reporters.

"I was in my bedroom and heard a thud. One of neighbors came to my door. He asked if I had a fire extinguisher because a plane had just crashed by my house. That was the first I had heard of it," local resident Nancy Ward told WAVY. "We saw a plane that had apparently hit a tree right next to our driveway. It had gone straight down into the ground. There was no sign of life."

Federal authorities are still unclear about what may have caused the crash. Brown, who joined the Air Force in 1980 and gradually rose through the ranks, had more than 4,300 hours of experience piloting a variety of aircraft, including B-1s and B-52s ABC News said.

"We are deeply saddened by the loss of Joe Brown and his wife, Sue," Air Force Secretary Michael Donley and Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III said in a written statement Saturday. "Joe and Sue dedicated their lives in service to our nation and their loss will be felt across our Air Force and joint team."